Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paris travel guide

Everyone loves Paris, as much for its shady boulevards, street side cafes and general atmosphere as for the more famous sights such as the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral.
So what are the most interesting places to see in Paris? The 'famous' places listed below only start to scratch the surface of the real Paris. Shopping and restaurants, museums and public gardens, boulevards and monuments, architecture and music, everywhere you go in Paris there is something new to discover. You will discover many of these pleasures as you travel around Paris, visiting the 'great' sights, of which there are many.

Some of the most popular landmarks, which will surely form part of your visit, include (classified by region of Paris):

The Islands of the Seine River
Notre Dame cathedral - world famous cathedral, on an island in the Seine, the Ile de la Cité. See also the church of Saint-Chapelle, 13th century gothic chapel on the same island, and the medieval Conciergerie.

The Latin Quarter

Highlights of the Latin Quarter of Paris include the church of Saint-Severin, the Cluny Museum, the Pantheon and the University of Paris - the Sorbonne

Montparnasse and Saint-Germain

District including the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg), the remains of the abbey at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Montparnasse, and the Paris Observatory

Le Chatelet and Les Halles

Highlights are the Pompidou Centre and the Hotel de Ville

The Louvre and the Royal Palace

The Louvre, a very extensive art museum, and the Royal Palace (Palais-Royal)


This region contains the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Elysées, and the Arc de Triomphe

Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889 and the most recognised landmark in the city, with magnificent views across Paris from the top of the tower. Nearby is Les Invalides, museum and the last resting place of Napoleon

Other Paris highlights

- the Eglise de la Madeleine and the Paris Opera

- the hilltop Montmartre district, and the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur

- the Saint-Denis Basilica, to the north of Paris

- Pere Lachaise cemetery, with the graves of many, many important people - from Honoré de Balzac to Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf to Jim Morrison.

If time permits, the river itself is also a day’s adventure. The views from the glass enclosed tourists’ boats are fantastic. And if you’re in Paris on a Sunday and the weather’s fine, join the natives and stroll down the Champs Elysees, starting from the Arc de Triomphe.

Paris at night
photo is © Luc Viatour GFDL/CC

Public Transport in Paris

Paris is one of the easiest cities in the world to get around. The Metro (Subway) is brilliant. The lines go everywhere and the trains are frequent if a little crowded at busy times. Buses too are good and it’s usually just as quick to take a bus as pay out for a taxi - you can see more from the extra height in the bus too. The main rail networks, RER (locally around the suburbs) and SNCF (longer distances) are efficient and reliable.

Probably the best option is to buy a day ticket giving you unlimited travel or a “carnet” of ten tickets which work out cheaper than paying for individual journeys. The Metro has another, often unrecognised function - if you get lost in the central area, just stroll around until you come across a Metro station - it won’t be very far.



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